Dark Comedy & Diabolical Puzzles: Should You Be Reading ‘Demon’?
When you look at the sheer range and number of original stories being told in comics form today, it’s hard to imagine a better time to be a comics reader. Online and in print, from all around the world, artists and writers are telling stories with their own voices and styles, and there’s so much to choose from that it’s sometimes difficult to know what to read next. With Should I Be Reading… ?, ComicsAlliance hopes to offer you a guide to some of the best original ongoing comics being published today.
Demon is an ongoing webcomic by Jason Shiga that started in January 2014 and updates every weekday. The series focuses on a seemingly ordinary man who finds that he has the power to take over a different body after death.
WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
The story beings with Jimmy Yee killing himself in a hotel room following the death of his wife and daughter in a collision with a drunk truck driver. To his surprise, rather than being sent to the hereafter, he finds himself in the adjacent hotel room, where he kills himself again. Eventually, he realizes that his consciousness, following death, takes over the nearest person in proximity to his own corpse.
Yee decides to find and kill the truck driver, currently in a state penitentiary, while avoiding a secret government agency aware of his power and eager to seize it for their own uses.
WHO IS IT BY?
Readers will probably best know Jason Shiga from his 2004 Eisner-winning graphic novel Meanwhile, an 80-page comic that had over 3,856 story options in an impressively detailed Choose-Your-Own-Adventure style. Shiga's work is known for its innovative story construction, expressive cartooning, and sharp comedic timing.
WHAT MAKES IT SPECIAL?
Demon is a comic that is genuinely difficult to predict. Even when Shiga zigs when you expect him to zag, the comic continues to follow his long-term plotting --- one of the many impressive details of Demon is that Shiga has a percentage bar at the top of the comic detailing how much is left until the completion. Shiga's appreciation for puzzles and mathematics lets him use Jimmy's power to create darkly humorous traps and experiments, like when Jimmy is trapped in the body of a death row prisoner whose only adjacent neighbors are likewise death row prisoners.
Shiga's art, too, allows the story to stay comedic. One of the creepy undertones of the book is that whenever Jimmy takes over another body following his own death, that new body's former mind is completely wiped, basically killing them. It doesn't take long for Jimmy to become almost entirely nihilistic and heartless at the destruction he's causing for his own selfish actions. Yet thanks to Shiga's art, the story remains balanced, letting the reader find the comedy in Jimmy's actions, even when they're perverse and unsettling.
WHO SHOULD READ IT?
Fans of violent, slapstick works like Deadpool, Harley Quinn, or Johnny The Homicidal Maniac will likely enjoy Jimmy's destructive rampages, but Shiga also delves deeply into the metaphysical aspects of Jimmy's abilities, and how it affects his psyche. Knowing exactly what Jimmy's abilities entail allow for the fascinating puzzle aspects of the story, while his atypical reactions and contrary nature create an intriguing character study.
WHERE CAN I READ IT?